Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Theme / Antiquity


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About the site

Corridor: Diagonal Road
Country: Bulgaria, Hisarya
Type: Ancient Site
Epoch: Antiquity
Theme: Antiquity
World Heritage:
AntiquityAntiquityAncient Site

Due to the excellent climatic conditions and the medicinal mineral waters (22 springs), the site of the present Diocletianopolis has been inhabited since the 6th millennium BC. Later on, a Thracian settlement was found there, which after the Roman conquest of Thrace (around the 1st c.) expanded and developed as typical Roman town. During the 3rd c. the Roman Emperor Diocletian settled there because of the curative effect of the mineral waters and gave the name of the town – Diocletianopolis. At the beginning of the 6th c. the town was encircled by fortification walls.
During the 5th – 6th c., already included in the boundaries of the Byzantine Empire, construction works continued and the town gradually expanded. At the end of the 6th c. and beginning of the 7th c. it was destroyed by the attacks of the Avers and Slavs. Over the ruins, during the early Middle Ages (around the 9th c.) was found the present town – the SPA centre Hissar.
The fortification walls, which encircle a space of totally 20 hectares, are additionally protected with a ditch and rampart fortification. The walls were quite impressive – their length was 2 327m, their width varied between 2.60 - 4m, while their height reached 12.5m. There were 44 towers in them, four main gates and six smaller entrances; the southern and western gates are relatively well preserved.
The inner town was built according to the ancient Hypodam system (with perpendicular streets, orientated north-south and east-west). The quarters, with dimensions 60 x 40m, were built with great, representative buildings. In the centre of the town was discovered a building covering about 2000 square meters, while another one – covering about 1170 square meters, was discovered in the town park; in its vicinity was discovered an amphitheater with elliptical arena. The remains of three public baths were also discovered, on the sites, where today the same type of buildings is existing.
During the period 4th – 6th c., when Diocletianopolis was Episcopal seat, in the town were erected a number of religious Christian buildings – the remains of 10 basilicas with frescoes, marble floors, crypts, chapels, baptisteries, necropolises were discovered, as well as various ritual objects – feretories, crosses, etc.

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